Does Stress Impact Your Muscles and Bones? You’ll be Surprised
It’s possible that your chronic muscular pain is because of stress. It’s possible that stress is rendering your bone weak and brittle.
It’s possible that your chronic muscular pain is because of stress. It’s possible that stress is rendering your bone weak and brittle.(Photo: iStockphoto)

Does Stress Impact Your Muscles and Bones? You’ll be Surprised

Stress has become so acceptable in our lives, we carry it on our shoulders as a batch of honour. “I am so stressed today,” is applauded as a sign that you are working really hard. But this constant need to fill our lives with stressful situations comes with some collateral damage. Damage that’s passed on to our muscles and bones.

It’s possible that your chronic muscular pain is because of stress. It’s possible that stress is rendering your bone weak and brittle.

But what qualifies as stress?

Stress response happens when the mind faces situations where body's existence is under threat; whereas, anxiety is an imaginary threat which mind perceives to happen in future which causes suspense and nervousness, explains psychologist Ritu Chauhan in an article here.

Stress Impacts Every Aspect of your Life

Whether it is your feelings, your mental health or even your physical health. Dr Achal Bhagat, a senior psychiatrist at Apollo Hospitals, has this to say:

A stressful Life brings many changes to the human body. The loss of bone and muscle mass, change in cardiac performance, variation in behavior, and body-wide alterations initiated by a changing nervous system are some of the most apparent and potentially detrimental effects of stress.

If you have chronic pain, it can lead to mental health issues like depression and anxiety, and physically manifests as skin and hair problems, weight gain or loss, stomach and heart health issues.

Stress and Pain

Stressed-out people often  experience neck, shoulder, and back pain.
Stressed-out people often experience neck, shoulder, and back pain.
(Photo: iStock)

“Stress and pain are often closely linked. Each one can have an impact on the other, creating a vicious cycle that sets the stage for chronic pain and chronic stress,” says Dr Bhagat, so, part of getting pain relief is learning how to better manage stress.

It’s not completely clear yet to researchers how stress and pain are related. However, stressed-out people often experience neck, shoulder, and back pain. This could be due to the link between stress and tension in the muscles. It could also be related to brain chemicals.

When you are experiencing stress, your muscles are stretched. As you get pain relief, your muscles also relax. But if you are constantly under stress, the muscles are constantly stretched, leading to headaches, back pain, shoulder pain, basically affecting every pain point in your body.

Some studies suggest that even thinking about stressful situations can trigger pain in your back muscles.

Your pain is linked to your nervous system.

The brain is a key player in how we perceive pain. The brain is always trying to inhibit pain signals. But if you’re stressed, simply put, the brain’s ability to filter these pain signals is affected in a bad way and pain can be increased.
Dr Achal Bhagat

Also Read : Explained: Do We Really Understand Stress and Anxiety?

Can Stress Lead to Osteoporosis?

Stressed out people don’t focus on their diet or exercise, further exacerbating their osteoporosis.
Stressed out people don’t focus on their diet or exercise, further exacerbating their osteoporosis.
(Photo: iStock)

Stress has a direct impact on your bone mineral density, according to several studies.

Under stress, our adrenal glands increase the production of cortisol, which is also known as ‘stress hormone’. Cortisols can decrease bone density by inhibiting the bone-building osteoblasts. With decreased osteoblast activity, the body ends up with more broken down bone tissue than deposited, causing low bone density and eventually osteoporosis.

Cortisol not only leads to mineral loss in your bones, it also increases acid load which is not good for your bone health. Chronic stress can lead to reducing of cells itself and the loss is so severe it cannot be recovered by diet alone.

Dr Puneet Mishra, head of the orthopedic department at Fortis Hospital, says stressed out people don’t focus on their diet or exercise, further exacerbating the problem.

So What Can You Do?

Dr Bhagat suggests the following:

  • Get moving. Being active can help decrease stress levels. "Make exercise a priority, whether it's 30 minutes on an exercise bike or going to the gym four times a week.”
  • Get more restful sleep. Proper sleep can also help you cope with stress. Restorative sleep can help you better face the turmoil of the day. So get enough sleep and better quality sleep.
  • Find a balance. Our schedules are often packed, with little down time. Take the time to examine your daily routine and modify it for better stress control.

Also Read : Stress May Be Literally Shrinking Your Brain. De-stress NOW

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